Open Letter to NDP MP Niki Ashton re: Morgane Oger’s Bid for the NDP Nomination Vancouver-Centre

We are dismayed to learn that you are publicly supporting the candidacy of Morgane Oger for nomination to become the NDP candidate for Vancouver-Centre. In 2018, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh reiterated the party’s long-standing commitment to addressing the social, political and economic impact of women’s subordination, stating that

 As long as Indigenous women are overrepresented in prisons, as long as older women are trapped in poverty, as long as all women are paid less than men at work, as long as women face gender violence – and as long as women still have to fear having their rights taken away – we won’t stop pressing for true gender equality.”

You have expanded upon the issues relating to women’s inequality in a statement on women’s rights on your website.

 It is not possible to reconcile your views or Mr. Singh’s statement of commitment to women’s rights with your support of Morgane Oger who has, for years, engaged in a continuous and public attack on women’s rights, on women’s organizations, on public institutions that facilitate public discussion of women’s rights and on individual women identified as feminist journalists, public speakers and advocates.

On both Twitter and Facebook, on public accounts, Oger has engaged in a prolonged attack on Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, one of Canada’s oldest and most respected women’s shelter, providing crisis line services to all who require them, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. VRRWS serves nearly 1,200 women a year – rape and sexual assault victims, women abused in the sex trade, women who have fled violent men with their children, poor, working class and disadvantaged women trying to rebuild their lives away from abusive men, women of all races and ethnicities.

VRRWS is also the only women’s shelter in Vancouver that offers women-only services, recognizing that women victims of male violence require spaces free of men to recover from abusive experiences outside the sphere of male influence and without fear of attack by men, as well as to formulate and strategize with respect to political responses to women’s oppression and exploitation and to educate the public with respect to men’s violence against women.

In a CityNews Toronto article published on March 21, 2019, Morgane Oger claimed to have been engaged in an attempt to stop Vancouver City Council’s grant to the VRRWS since 2013  – a grant that had been awarded to VRRWS every year since 2005, earmarked for public education on violence against women.

 As a result of Oger’s initiative, Vancouver City Council decided to end its grant to VRRWS after this year – a decision that ignored its own guidelines with respect to eligibility requirements. Oger now appears to be targeting the organization’s charitable status (March 15th, 2019, several times on March 19th, 2019 – here and here), and on March 20th, 2019,  implied an intention to target BC Housing’s funding for VRRWS’  transition house.

 On Twitter on (May 31st, 2018 ), Oger implied that VRRWS turns away women engaged in the sex trade. In fact, VRRWS provides services to such women, who are also included among its volunteers, employees and collective members.

 On Twitter on (May 26th, 2018), Oger stated that VRRWS advocates for “heterosexual cisgender rights only” refusing services to victims of same-sex violence or to lesbians. These statements are incorrect. VRRWS provides services to all women who have suffered violence including same-sex violence.

 On Twitter and Facebook, Oger constantly asserts that VRRWS has no legal basis (June 11th, 2018, March 26th, 2019 ) for its decision to provide services and shelter to women only. In human rights laws, both sex and gender identity are protected categories and must be balanced against each other.

 In fact, there is a case before the BC Human Rights Tribunal right now which must, in the result, balance the sex-based rights of women with the “gender identity” rights of a trans person. It is not yet known how the BCHRT will rule but what is clear is that Oger constantly misrepresents the state of the law with respect to sex-based rights and gender identity rights, going so far as to say that there is no longer any such thing as sex-based rights in Canadian law, blatantly misleading the Canadian public on a regular basis in stating that those women’s organizations that act for and on behalf of women as a sex class are violating the law.

 As it remains to be seen how these rights will be balanced when they conflict and it’s obvious that the struggle over the legal issues will be long, it is disingenuous to state that the law is clear and that women fighting for our rights before the law are in fact breaking it. To suggest this is an attempt to invalidate and dismiss women’s struggle long before the legal issues have been clarified. How can a person who so deliberately misrepresents the law adequately and appropriately represent Canadian citizens as a candidate for public office and as a federal MP?

Morgane Oger has also engaged in a prolonged attack on Meghan Murphy, an internationally respected Canadian feminist journalist, and on her publication, Feminist Current. Murphy has herself published principled and respectful articles, both at Feminist Current and other media, on the issues confronting us with respect to women’s right to organize, as women, in the struggle for our liberation and for the safety of women and girls in what have been till now sex-segregated spaces, respecting the privacy of women and girls and the need for spaces that provide relative safety, free from men. 

Along with other women’s advocates, Murphy has appeared in the USA and UK, Scotland and Canada, at public events that encourage discussion and respectful debate on issues of “gender identity” and women’s rights. In Scotland, Murphy was invited to address Parliament by Scottish National Party MSP Joan McAlpine. McAlpine noted that Murphy is “a socialist and feminist who is admired around the world for her bravery in speaking up for women” and recommended that women who express concerns about “allowing males to self-identity as women and access single sex spaces and services … should not be subject to abuse, or knee-jerk accusations of transphobia.”

We believe that Morgane Oger has subjected Meghan Murphy and other women’s advocates to abuse and knee-jerk accusations of transphobia.

One of the public discussions on these issues took place at the Vancouver Public Library on January 10th, 2019. Morgane Oger continues to publicly attack the event, the women speakers, particularly Meghan Murphy and, indeed, the VPL itself for hosting this event. We would have thought that an NDP candidate would support free and respectful public dialogue on these important problems in human rights law and public policy – the name of your party includes the word “Democratic”. Far from exhibiting a tolerant and respectful position, Oger continues to assert that the discussion itself is  unacceptable and to misrepresent the state of the law and public policy with respect to women’s and transgender rights. 

It is important to support women’s access to public spaces for the purposes of discussing, debating and educating with respect to women’s rights. It is shocking to see a respected NDP MP such as yourself support and endorse a person who consistently attacks and harasses women, women’s advocates, women’s organizations and institutions and indeed, public institutions and democratic processes themselves, while misrepresenting the content of the discussion and the intentions of the speakers.

We wouldn’t have thought that a person such as Morgane Oger, engaged in such blatant and ongoing attempts to mislead the Canadian public and stifle public discussion and debate, would be an apt candidate for the office of MP as a member of the NDP. We are shocked by Oger’s decision to attempt to advance certain views and opinions regarding  gender identity rights by attacking individual women and women’s organizations and by attempting to pre-empt open, public and democratic debate. Your decision to support Oger’s nomination campaign is equally shocking.

 We call upon you to stand up for women’s political rights and support women’s right to safety and security in our daily lives as we organize towards our liberation . Given the NDP’s stated commitment to women in the face of our subordination and oppression, if you do not do so, who will? If we cannot support and vote for you and other NDP candidates, where shall we go?

Elizabeth Pickett

Lynda Davies

Maureen Bourke

Alison Dover

Ness Fraser

Alexia Olson

David DePoe

Vera Peters

Monika Beatty

Linda Beacham

Erin Graham

Susan Smyth

Andrea Stumpf

Danielle Cormier

Kristal Kinistino

Susan Breeze

Orla Hegarty

S.L. Bondarchuk

Colleen Glynn

Amy Hamm

Diane Matte

Cheryl Smith

Catharine Daalton

Holly Stamer

Candice Pilgrim

Heather Mason

Krista Sawchuk

Willow Aster

Kate Tagseth

Cathy Sorenson

Tannis Larsen

Chris Linneman

Tina Jones

Margaret McCarroll

Jennifer White

Niki Fortier

Monica Sharma

Jeanette Nicholson

Sarah Nicholson

Sharon Fraser

Gordon B. Hill

Sarah Albertson

Jen Bjarnson

C. Dechant

Tamarack Verrall

Cathryn Atkinson

Heather Hawkins

Rebecca Whisnant

Raine McLeod

Celia A. Nord

Renee LaFortune

Kelly Quinn

Natalie Wlock

Jacqueline Gullion

Cheryl Angle

Suzette Cullen

Bonny Lees

Laurie Strang

Diana Shaw

Carolyn Jerome

Heather Hawkins

Jeff White

Cathy Swiffen

Donna Johnson

Kris Anderson

Judith Anderson

Trish Oliver

Barbara van’tSlot

Jennifer Doris

Kelly Constabaris

Annette Russell

Alison Batts

Kathleen Lowry

Sandra Tankard

Diana Majury

Rae Carlson

Michelle Lunny

Colette Surovy

Gaynor Harding

Karen Seabrooke

Lara Yates

Drena McCormack

Nancy Shaw

Marie Long

Kat Dawson

Kimberly Everett

Dustin McGregor

Amanda Gwynne

Joann Robertson

Zoë Lafantaisie

Melanie Knight

JM Janzen

The Lesbian Collective

Canadian Feminist Network

Newfoundland & Labrador Feminists & Allies

Radical Feminists Unite

NB: Many more women wanted to sign this letter but were legitimately and justifiably concerned about retaliation in their workplaces and in public after witnessing women lose their jobs, receive workplace discipline and become targets for harassment, stalking and threats of doxxing on social media-  and worse.

 

 

 

 

 

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– “Que vous le vouliez ou non, le pole dancing perpétue le sexisme” —

Que vous le vouliez ou non, le pole dancing perpétue le sexisme MEGHAN MURPHY, le 18 septembre 2016 sur FEMINIST CURRENT (Photo promotionnelle de l’entreprise Doll House Pole Fitness) Depuis lundi, le personnel de la maison canadienne d’hébergement pour femmes London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) a été inondé de commentaires hostiles sur leur page […]

via – “Que vous le vouliez ou non, le pole dancing perpétue le sexisme” —

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Solidarity with #LAWC

CANADIAN FEMINIST NETWORK

Ottawa, Ontario

*TO: Megan Walker, ED London Abused Women’s Centre, The Board of Directors London Abused Women’s Centre, Staff and Clients London Abused Women Centre

Women in Canada and around the world look to the London Abused Women’s Centre as a leader in the provision of services to women who have experienced male violence, whether in intimate relationships, from strangers or through the sex trade. We admire the willingness of the Centre to take public, feminist positions regarding the oppression and exploitation of women, and particularly its recent decision to withdraw its support for the London “Take Back the Night” event because of a proposed pole dancing demonstration that was to take place as part of a larger protest highlighting public violence against women perpetrated by men.

Like LAWC, we understand that pole dancing emanates from the highly objectified practice of stripping and “exotic dancing” performed for the benefit of men to the disadvantage of women generally, insofar as it focuses on a male-defined understanding of women’s worth and sexual expression. Women’s individual choices with respect to participation in physical exercise that focuses on their sexual attractiveness to men within a context of oppression and exploitation are confined by male social and economic dominance. All women are entitled to respect, compassion, care and service provision. All women. This does not mean that women’s organizations must endorse activities that represent male dominance and concomitant damage to women and girls in order to be respectful of women who engage in them.

We admire the courage of the London Abused Women’s Centre, its Board of Directors and staff for willingness to publicly articulate the principles of anti-sexist, anti-misogynist, feminist practice in the provision of services and are appalled by the abusive response of some members of the community. We believe it is important that personalized attacks on leaders and staff of LAWC be publicly identified and acknowledged as attempts to intimidate individuals and the organization and pre-empt free public discourse.

We offer our solidarity and support.

Organizations:

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia, Melbourne, Australia

Collective Shout, a grassroots campaigning movement against the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls in media, advertising and popular culture), Australia

Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

Women’s Place Kenora

Nordic Model Coalition in Australia

NL Feminists and Allies, St. Vincent’s, Newfoundland

Canadian Feminist Network

Persons Against Non-State Torture

Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle

EVE (formerly Exploited Voices now Educating), a volunteer, non-governmental, non-profit organization composed of former sex-industry women dedicated to naming prostitution violence against women and seeing its abolition through political action, advocacy, and awareness raising that focuses on ending the demand for paid sexual access to women and children’s bodies.

Strey Khmer Organization, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Radical Feminists Unite, Toronto, ON

Scottish Women Against Pornography, Edinburgh, Scotland

Edmonton Women & Allies Against the Sex Industry (EWAASI)

Reclaim the Night, Perth, Australia

Korea Women’s Liberation

Ressources Prostitution, Paris, France

Rape Crisis Scotland

Individuals:

Linda Beacham, Women’s Place, Kenora, ON

Sylvia Black, Atlanta, GA

Emily P, Toronto, ON

Elizabeth Sellwood, Toronto, ON

Ness Fraser, Guelph, ON

Carol Dunphy, Toronto, ON

April Carriere, Ottawa, ON

Dawn Kuehn, Kelowna, BC

Trisha Wilson-Singer, Toronto, ON

Sam Turi, Kitchener, ON

Mary Poelstra, Fredericton, NB

Cathryn Atkinson, Squamish, B.C.

Sharon Fraser, Halifax, NS

Marie Hume, Mannum, South Australia

Candice Pilgrim, Belleville, ON

Simone Watson, prostitution survivor and director of Nordic Model Coalition in Australia

Susan Barley, Australia

Kylee Nixon, Edmonton, AB

Fawn Sewell, Edmonton, AB

Paula Schmidt, Vernon, BC

David DePoe, Toronto

Lynda Richardson, Women’s Place, Kenora, ON

Celia Nord, Chase, BC

Elizabeth Pickett, Ottawa, ON

Meghan Murphy, Vancouver, BC

Orla Hegarty, NL Feminists Allies, St. Vincent’s, Newfoundland

Jennifer White, London ON

Terre Spencer, Atlanta, GA

Meagan Tyler, Melbourne Australia

Inge Kleine, Kofra (Communication Centre for Women), Munich, Germany

Colleen Glynn, Richmond, BC

Tamara Gorin, Port Coquitlam, BC

Jess Martin, Vancouver, BC

S.C. Gillett, Toronto, ON

Natasha Chart, Rochester, NY

Wendy Lewis, London, ON

Leah Harwood, Toronto, ON

Jacqueline Gullion, Ghent, Belgium

Johanna te Boekhorst, Chilliwack, BC

Krista Sawchuk, London, ON

S.L. Bondarchuk, Edmonton, AB (Edmonton Small Press Association)

Rachel Goodine, Victoria, BC

Arianwen Harris, Australia

Jennifer Chavez, Maryland, US

Antonia Bookbinder, Maryland, US

Eliana Bookbinder, Indiana, US

Bronwyn Winter, Associate Professor, Acting Director, European Studies Program, The University of Sydney. Sydney, NSW, Australia

Megan Larin, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Jade Tinkler, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Ally Johnston, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Susan Barley, Lithgow, NSW, Australia.

Dr Merike Johnson, Hervey Bay, QLD, Australia.

Caitlin Roper, Perth, WA, Australia.

Melinda Tankard Reist, Collective Shout. Canberra, ACT, Australia

Paige Gleeson, Hobart, TAS, Australia

Lindy Cameron, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Spider Redgold, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Raina Robertson, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Jodie Finnigan, Melbourne. VIC, Australia

Yolanda Krockenberger, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Jacqueline Gwynne – Pink Cross – Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Rosemary Davey, QLD, Australia

Elizabeth Sheehy, Professor of Law , University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, Ottawa, ON

Martha Jackman, Professor of Law, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, Ottawa, ON

Lynda Davies, former Executive Director, Assaulted Women’s Helpline, Ottawa, ON

Catherine Weiss, Melbourne, Australia

Rebecca Thornhill, Ottawa, ON

Shana Bergen, USA

Angie Conroy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Julie Bindel, London UK

Dr Kate Cook, Manchester UK

Bernie O’Roarke, London, UK

Samantha Jinks, UK

Yolande Clark, Fredericton, NB

Dr. Erin Graham, Vancouver, BC

Diane Martin CBE, United Kingdom

Nayoung Kim, Seoul, South Korea

Sue Breeze, Barriere, BC

Julie Chalder-Mills, Cambridge, UK

Diane Martin CBE, United Kingdom

Sineat Yon, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Sue Breeze, Barriere, BC

Julia Long, London, UK

Caroline Pugh-Roberts, London, ON

Margaret McCarroll, London, ON

Marina O’Brien, Bristol, UK

Nicola Sharp-Jeffs London, UK

Kristyan Robinson, London, UK

Lee Lakeman, Vancouver, BC

Lucy Coghill, Hertfordshire, UK

Gloria Savage, Niagara Falls, ON

Fay Blaney, North Vancouver, BC

Marv Wheale, Vancouver, BC

Manon Marie Jo Michaud, Montreal, QC

Lucy Wainwright, Derbyshire, UK

Michael Laxer, Toronto, ON

Jennifer Drew, London, UK

Shauna Devlin, Ireland

Manu Schon, Wiesbaden, Germany

Mary Lou Jones, M.Ed, London, ON

Eliza Karat, Warsaw, Poland

Rebecca Harrison, North Yorkshire, UK

Chris Wilson, Vancouver, BC

Ina Major, NS

Raquel Rosario Sanchez, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Sonia Zawitkowski, Georgetown, ON

Reaksmey Arun, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Hilary McCollum, Donegal, Ireland

Yeliz Osman, Mexico City, Mexico

Lori Hirt, Rochester, N.Y.

Pam Rubin, Halifax, NS

Stephie Smith, Vermont, USA

Kelly Wark, Toronto, ON

Danielle Loger, Melbourne, Australia

Tera Cornel, Edmonton, AB

Raymond Cornel, Edmonton, AB

Sarah Miller, Reclaim the Night, Perth, Australia

Fraser Windsor, Reclaim the Night, Perth, Australia

Laura Clappinson, Reclaim the Night, Perth, Australia

Liz Waterhouse, Reclaim the Night, Perth, Australia

Elizabeth Carola, UK

Liz Smith, Melbourne, Australia

Elizabeth Gordon, London, UK

Emma Cox, Essex, UK

Darlene Corry, Donegal, Ireland

Kathleen Barry, California, USA

Nayoung Kim, Seoul, South Korea

Heather Gunn, West Vancouver, BC

Kayley Self, Los Angeles, CA

Michele Landsberg, Toronto, ON

Paige Schwimer, Los Angeles, CA

Sara Davidson, Hamilton, ON

Brian Cross, Vancouver. BC

Rachel Feury, Ireland

Rose Meltzer, USA

Meaghan McGraw, Vancouver, BC

Dr Maja Bowen, UK

Charlotte Peterson, AZ, USA

Martin Dufresne, Montreal, PQ

Lise Bouvet, Paris, France

Eileen Maitland, Glasgow, Scotland

Dr Susan Hawthorne, Melbourne Australia

Dr Renate Klein, Melbourne, Australia

Didier Epsztajn, France

Contact: Elizabeth Pickett, Ottawa, ON elizabethpickett1@gmail.com

*Posted at Feminist Current

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Conflict Violence in Congo and Violence Against Women

Earlier I posted a link in my Facebook group to an article about violence against women in the conflict in Congo. Someone objected, quite understandably, to the graphic violence depicted in the accompanying photo. I don’t know how we can resolve the problem of subjecting ourselves and others to triggering and trauma via graphically violent photos and my thinking on this is quite conflicted. Others have objected to the photo elsewhere. For the moment I’m going to leave aside the problem of exposing women’s bodies, and in this case, black women’s bodies, to the sensationalist gaze of onlookers (but feel free to discuss it if you wish) in favour of providing you with a brief history in links related to the horrible situation of women in Congo. But be warned, it’s very difficult to know.

My first exposure to the problem of sexual and physical violence against women in Congo was via this documentary – “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo”. It comes to us via a white USian woman who also suffered traumatic sexual violence herself. I think there is no more difficult piece of film on the planet, though there might be. It affected my ability to sleep for a long time and made me weep more often than I care to remember. Still, I might watch it again. Because I need to know. And I “can” know. It is not the same for everyone. And fyi, there is saving grace in the interviews with women survivors in the community created to help them heal from their psychic wounds after their physical wounds are treated.

The injuries inflicted on women victims of sexual violence by roving soldiers often results in vesicovaginal and rectovaginal fistula for many, rendering them incontinent in many cases and resulting in their rejection by the people of their villages and communities. The film introduces viewers to the work of Dr. Denis Mukwegwe at the Panzi Clinic and the women and men who work with him to repair the bodies and minds of women victims. It’s the hopeful and inspiring part of the film. Some of you might remember that Eve Ensler became involved in consciousness-raising and fundraising for the clinic with her V-Day initiative. There is lots of critique of Ensler’s work and “The Vagina Monologues” and some of it is warranted. In the end I admire her for doing a fucking thing: “To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $100 million; educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it; crafted international educational, media, and PSA campaigns; reopened shelters; and funded over 13,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, Egypt, and Iraq.”

Here’s an article that Ensler wrote for Glamour magazine back in 2008 that affected me deeply: “I am going to tell the stories of the patients he saves so that the faceless, generic, raped women of war become Alfonsine and Nadine—women with names and memories and dreams. I am going to ask you to stay with me, to open your hearts, to be as outraged and nauseated as I felt sitting in Panzi Hospital in faraway Bukavu.”

At the tenth anniversary celebration of V-Day in New Orleans in 2008 which honoured the work of Denis Mukwegwe and those who work at the Panzi Clinic and “City of Joy”, the refuge established where women can begin to heal their psychic wounds after they are physically recovered from surgery at the Clinic, Stephen Lewis – who was then Canada’s Ambassador to the UN – gave a speech that I have never forgotten about the UN’s complicity in the violence against women in Congo. It’s impassioned, inspiring … and reveals horrible things that seem almost past resolution. It bears a read or re-read. Lewis’ speech makes me wonder whether the “efforts” of the UN in combatting violence against women isn’t just one giant public relations scam.

UN Resolutions against violence against women specifically in Congo have been hailed widely and then proven useless. In fact, UN “peacekeeping” troops have too often been implicated in incidents of violence themselves – see this and this and this. There’s much more. Just Google.

I think it’s necessary to look at the roots of the conflict in Congo and the complicity of industrialized nations in that conflict due to our ongoing and vampiric requirement for “conflict minerals”. Gold is the biggest source of conflict mineral trade in Congo but next comes coltan, used to produce tantalum which is required for the manufacture of our mobile phones and almost every other electronic device. The presence of minerals mined by greedy ousiders (rich, white, usually Western corporations) has been shown to lead to “the likelihood of weak democratic development, corruption, and civil war”. No one does worse in such countries than women who are oppressed, exploited, maimed and killed by EVERYONE.

There have been attempts to address the rape and pillage caused by the perceived need to produce millions of electronic devices but, again, these often seem to amount to little more than public relations efforts on the part of the tech industry:

“But while major US-registered electronics firms are outwardly pledging to end the use of conflict minerals some of these same firms belong to industry associations that are seeking to water down the disclosure requirements under Dodd-Frank.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the National Association of Manufacturers have mounted a legal challenge to the obligations, which is being considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals.” (here)

As I write this post on a computer that likely contains coltan and other conflict minerals, I am not unaware of the irony. We are all complicit. I mean no disrespect to those who find the pictures and stories emanating from Congo traumatizing. We all have to take care of ourselves first and foremost before we can address these pressing issues and we have to take care of ourselves while we’re doing it too. But I don’t think we can or should ban the photos or stories or in any way suppress them. I have to at least witness and at best, find something to do about it. Drops in the ocean. But the women of the City of Joy tell me it’s the least I can do and that women will rise up no matter what men do to us.

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– Open Letter to Amnesty International by survivors of CAFES: “We have believed in your will to make this world a better, fairer world.”

Open Letter to Amnesty International

By the survivors of the Help Collective for Sexually Exploited Women

(Collectif d’Aide aux Femmes Exploitées Sexuellement – CAFES) of QUÉBEC

PAYS

We have believed in your will to make this world a better, fairer world, a world that respects and promotes the rights of all human beings, not just those of men. You have disappointed many men, as well as a great number of women. We are shocked to realize that you are defending, subtly and hypocritically, the “rights” of pimps and exploiters, accepting thereby the selling and marketing of vulnerable women and children.

Large sums of money received by some sex trade advocates suggest that you are endorsing this trade for the same reason they are, money. Money trumping human rights. Is this really the case? Have you really fallen this low? The policy you have adopted regarding prostitution raises serious doubts about…

View original post 375 more words

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Feminists & Allies Challenging Maggie’s

Sisters and allies – we need your support. The following is copied from a petition that will be submitted to Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor requesting that she investigate Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project as to whether they have used and continue to use government funds to promote child sex trafficking. Please consider the following, sign the petition and share it with your networks and on social media. We need more signatures to prompt an investigation! Let us know what you think in comments too. Thanks for your help and solidarity.

Traductions françaises apparaissent ci-dessous.

Maggie’s– Toronto Sex Workers Action Project is a Canadian government-funded institution that has been quietly working to normalise paid access to children for sex by adults since 1982, in part byreferring to child rape and pedophilia for profit by the disgraceful term, “youth sex work.” In recent years, they’ve been aggressive political participants seeking to discredit women’s rights activists and organisations opposed to paid sexual access to women and children.

In March of 2012, their quiet support of legalising paid sexual access to children was featured in an issue of Shameless, under the title, “Sex Work Is Real Work.” This article is presently linked on their Library page, under the heading, “Youth Sex Work.” The author, Phoenix Anne McKee, purported to work with Maggie’s, and described herself as having been a “sex worker” since the age of 14.

McKee wrote,

“I was already having sex with older guys and figured I should get paid for it. … Choosing to do sex work can be a hard decision, but for some youth it is the only option available at the time.”

She described being picked up by Child Protective Services as “the most common risk faced by youth who decide to engage in sex work.”

McKee continues, describing the criminalisation of adult pedophiles as a more significant threat to children’s safety than the rape of children too young to consent. She writes,

“Youth who are 14 and 15 can only consent to having sex with individuals who are less than five years older than them. This puts an adult who is buying sexual services from a youth at risk of being charged with sexual interference or sexual assault. In this way the age of consent laws pose a risk to the safety of youth aged 14 and 15 who decide to engage in sex work.”

McKee’s article concludes,

“The aim is to bring youth sex workers together to demand safer working conditions, provide access to harm-reduction materials and advocate for the full decriminalization of sex work, including the youth sector. Those interested in contributing can contact Maggie’s at lipsmackin@maggiestoronto.ca. Together we can change the stigma around sex work.”

In plain terms and without the sex industry’s preferred jargon, this article is a call for raped and trafficked children to work with Maggie’s to end laws against paid child sexual assault, using, at the least, an email account issued by the organisation. It’s linked on their website as of the time of this writing, as are their attacks on various activists working against the sex industry’s exploitation of impoverished women and children.

As of their reporting year ending in March, 2014, Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers Action Project got 94% of their funding, $176,416, from the Ontario Ministry of Health’s AIDS Bureau. [1] In 2013 they reported receiving $173,073 in provincial government funds, or 99% of their budget. In their 2012 report, they received $176,066 from the provincial government, and $84,977 from the federal government, or over 98% of their operating budget from the Canadian government. These funds are supposedly granted as part of a harm reduction strategy, tasking the organisation to provide safer sex and safer drug use supplies, along with education, and support.

What public health goal is served by undermining laws against the paid rape of children?

This is especially frightening because The Native Women’s Association of Canada found in a survey of Indigenous women in the sex industry that [2] half of them “were first recruited between the ages of 9 and 14. More than 87% had been sexually abused, raped or molested before they were trafficked; 75% could not keep any of their earnings; and 85.7% had tried to resist and leave their situation.” We know that aboriginal women are disproportionately represented in the sex industry, [3] mainly due to poverty and persistent discrimination, where they are frequently exposed to the predations of rapists and murderers. Opening the door to legal child trafficking can have no possible outcome besides increasing the demand for sexual access to children’s bodies from some of Canada’s most at-risk communities.

The government of Ontario must investigate whether public health funds have been spent for the purposes of organising child sex abuse victims to provide political cover for the sex industry, as well as to attack the legitimacy of laws against child sex abuse, mandatory reporting, child trafficking, and pedophilia for cash.

Pétition: Demande d’enquête sur l’organisation “Maggie de Toronto” sur une possible utilisation de fonds publics pour promouvoir l’exploitation et la traite des enfants à des fins sexuelles.

À: L’honorable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, OC, OOnt, 29e Lieutenant Governor d’Ontario, Représentant de Sa Majesté la Reine.

Maggie’s- Projet d’Action des Travailleurs du Sexe de Toronto, est une institution canadienne financée par le gouvernement qui travaille pour la normalisation de l’accès à l’exploitation sexuelle des enfants par des adultes depuis 1982, en se référant notamment aux viols d’enfants et à la pédophilie dans un but lucratif par le terme abject du “travail sexuel des jeunes.” Au cours des dernières années, ils ont été des acteurs politiques agressifs cherchant à discréditer les activistes des droits des femmes et les organisations opposées à l’accès sexuelle rémunéré aux femmes et aux enfants.

En Mars 2012, leur soutien discret pour la légalisation du sexe rémunéré des enfants a fait l’objet d’une publication dérangeante, sous le titre «Le travail du sexe est un vrai travail.” Cet article est accessible en lien direct depuis leur site internet, avec comme entête: “Le travail du sexe de la jeunesse”. L’auteure, Phoenix Anne McKee, indique avoir travaillé avec Maggie, et se décrit comme ayant été une “travailleuse du sexe” depuis l’âge de 14 ans.

McKee écrit,

“J’avais déjà des relations sexuelles avec des hommes plus âgés que moi et j’imaginais que je devais simplement être payé pour cela. … Choisir le travail du sexe est souvent une décision difficile, mais pour certains jeunes, c’est la seule option possible aujourd’hui”.

Elle explique en outre que se faire ramasser par les Services de Protection de la Jeunesse est “le risque le plus courant chez les jeunes qui décident de s’engager dans le travail du sexe.”

McKee continue, décrivant la criminalisation des pédophiles adultes comme une menace encore plus importante pour la sécurité des enfants que le viol même des enfants trop jeunes pour consentir à un rapport sexuel. Elle écrit :

“Actuellement, les jeunes de 14 ou 15 ans ne peuvent consentir à avoir des relations sexuelles qu’avec des personnes qui ont moins de cinq ans de plus qu’eux. Cela met un adulte qui achète les services sexuels d’un jeune à risque d’être accusé de contacts sexuels et d’agression sexuelle. Ainsi, l’âge légal du consentement pose un risque pour la sécurité des jeunes âgés de 14 et 15 ans qui décident de s’engager dans le travail du sexe”.

L’article de McKee conclut,

“L’objectif est d’amener les jeunes travailleurs du sexe ensemble pour exiger des conditions de travail plus sûres, leur donner accès à des solutions de protection sexuelle à tarif réduit et défendre la pleine décriminalisation du travail du sexe, y compris dans le secteur de la jeunesse. Les personnes intéressées et qui souhaitent contribuer peuvent contacter Maggie à l’adresse emaillipsmackin@maggiestoronto.ca. Ensemble, nous pouvons changer la stigmatisation qui continue à entourer le travail du sexe “.

En termes clairs, et sans le jargon habituel de l’industrie du sexe, il est évident que cet article est un appel aux enfants violées et aux victimes de la traite sexuelle à rejoindre Maggie pour tenter d’en finir avec les lois contre l’exploitation sexuelle rémunérée des enfants, notamment par le biais d’un compte de messagerie émis par l’organisation. Ce compte est toujours actif sur leur site web au moment où nous écrivons ces lignes, tout comme le sont leurs attaques sur divers activistes qui luttent contre l’exploitation des femmes et des enfants pauvres de l’industrie du sexe.

D’après leur rapport de fin année publié en mars 2014, Maggie – Projet d’Action des Travailleurs du Sexe de Toronto, ont obtenu 94% de leur financement, soit $176,416, du Ministère de Santé de l’AIDS de l’Ontario. [1] En 2013, ils ont déclaré avoir reçu $173,073 des fonds du gouvernement provincial, soit 99% de leur budget. Dans leur rapport de 2012, ils ont reçu $176,066 du gouvernement provincial, et $84,977 du gouvernement fédéral, soit plus de 98% de leur budget de fonctionnement du gouvernement canadien. Ces fonds sont censés être accordés dans le cadre d’une stratégie de réduction des méfaits du travail du sexe. L’organisation est chargée de fournir plus de sécurité pour les travailleurs du sexe, dans la consommation de drogues, ainsi que plus d’éducation et de soutien…

Que objectif de santé publique est servi par la volonté de supprimer les lois contre les viols d’enfants rémunérés ?

Cela est d’autant plus inquiétant qu’une enquête [2] sur les femmes aborigènes dans l’industrie du sexe de “l’Association des Femmes Natives du Canada” a révélé que la moitié d’entre elles “ont d’abord été recrutés entre 9 ans et 14 ans. Plus de 87% ont été victimes d’abus sexuels, violées ou molesté avant même d’avoir été mises sur le marché; 75% d’entre elles ne pouvaient conserver aucun de leurs revenus, et 85,7% ont essayé de résister et de sortir de leur situation”. Nous savons que les femmes aborigènes sont surreprésentées dans l’industrie du sexe, [3] principalement du fait de la pauvreté et de la discrimination persistante, où elles sont fréquemment exposés aux prédateurs tels que violeurs et assassins.

Ouvrir la porte à la traite légale de l’enfant ne peut avoir aucun avantage positif. Au contraire, cela peut même favoriser l’augmentation de la demande d’accès au marché du sexe aux enfants de la plupart des communautés à risque au Canada.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario doit absolument examiner si des fonds de santé publique ont été utilisés afin de fournir une couverture politique à l’industrie du sexe sous couvert de gérer les victimes d’abus sexuels mineurs, ainsi que pour attaquer la légitimité des lois contre l’abus sexuel des enfants, la déclaration obligatoire, la traite des enfants, et la pédophilie rémunérée.

Please SIGN THE PETITION and share widely.

Posted in Exploitation of Children, Exploitation of Immigrant Populations, Exploitation of Indigenous People, Exploitation of Racial Minorities, Exploitation of Women, Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Sexual Exploitation | Tagged | 2 Comments

Open Letter to Midwives Alliance of North America

A coalition of courageous midwives has posted and sent an open letter to the Midwives Alliance of North America regarding its policies erasing the sex of the human beings who get pregnant and give birth to babies – that would be biological women.

Please support them if you can by signing on to the letter, sharing and posting it. If you wish to add your name, e-mail womancenteredmidwifery@gmail.com. Men don’t get pregnant. Men don’t give birth. Men don’t breastfeed infants. If the language we use to describe the sex of the humans who do these things is erased, we have lost our political language for resistance.

Here’s the letter:

Open Letter to the Midwives Alliance of North America regarding the recent revisions to the organization’s standing Core Competencies Document:

August 20, 2015

Dear Midwives Alliance of North America Board of Directors and MANA Membership:

We are writing in response to your revisions of the MANA Core Competencies. MANA’s attempts at inclusivity are commendable in today’s complex world. We are concerned, however, by accelerating trends in our culture to deny material biological reality and further disconnect ourselves from nature and the body, and about the ways in which the revisions may support these trends. Midwives have long practiced the precautionary principle, counseling against the adoption of technologies and theories that have not been proven safe or beneficial to mothers and babies, and by extension, the entire human community. We respectfully ask the MANA board to reverse the 2014 revisions and consider the ways in which the attempted changes may have harmful implications for women.

We are concerned that, except for in the trademarked section from the Midwives Model of Care, the word “woman” has been erased from the MANA core competencies document and replaced with “pregnant individual” and “birthing parent.” We recognize that the words maternal and motherbaby were not removed from the document, implying that the reviewers maintained a mutual and shared respect for the sanctity of the motherbaby unit in midwifery. But women are now all but missing from the language, as if we can separate woman from mother from baby. Woman is recognized now only in relation to her baby.  This is harmful to female adult humans; we women have fought long and hard to be recognized as autonomous beings.

Adopting this language change in the context of midwifery and human reproduction is based on either or both of the following assumptions. 1) That MANA and the midwives MANA represents believe that it is biologically possible to change one’s sex. Or 2) That we deny the material basis of biological sex and acknowledge gender identity as primary.  We know as midwives that biological sex occurs at the level of our DNA and the gametes we produce, and is immutable.  By embracing the idea that any human other than those in a class called women carry offspring to term, give birth to them and nurse them, we are prioritizing gender identity over biological reality. We are also contributing to the cultural erasure of women’s wisdom that the physiological power encoded in our female bodies is what creates, nourishes, and births live offspring and transmits culture. Maintaining this understanding of women’s unique power to give birth does not preclude practitioners from taking into account how individuals in their care prefer to be identified.

We believe that it is a mistake to define the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth though the lens of gender identity. The very few gender-identified males that have given birth or accessed an abortion have only done so because they are female-bodied people, and that scientific fact cannot be erased. We are allowing gender identity to be the primary way that we refer to one another, even for a biological process like birth. Pregnancy and birth are distinctly female biological acts; only women and female-bodied people can give birth. The whole concept that a man can give birth is premised on the supremacy of technology over women and nature, and the primacy of ideology that is detached from our animal, natural selves. Yet midwifery doesn’t only thrive, but survives, on the health of the biological process. We as midwives believe in the inherent wisdom of biology.

Human beings, like the majority of other mammals, are sexually dimorphic. i.e. there are two distinct biological sexes, female and male, with each having particular primary and secondary sex characteristics that allow us to make a distinction between the two. Sex is natural, biological and objectively factual. Gender refers to societal roles and expectations placed upon members of each sex. Gender is cultural and gender norms vary across the globe. Gender is in fact synonymous with what not so long ago were called sex-role stereotypes.   Today the word gender is frequently used to stand in for sex but this is true only on a superficial basis. Gender often now refers to the sex one is perceived as or wants to be perceived as. Gender, as used today, also refers to the results of consuming powerful steroid hormones to change secondary sex characteristics, and therefore the perception of one’s sex.

The root of female oppression is derived from biology. Patriarchal systems arise out of male attempts to control female sexuality and reproduction. Female liberation from patriarchal oppression, including brutal and demeaning birth practices, cannot be achieved if we are forbidden from mentioning female biology.  Women have a right to bodily autonomy and to speak about their bodies and lives without the demand that we couch this self-expression in language which suits the agenda of others who were not born female. Gender, sex and sexuality should not be conflated. Sex and sexuality are based upon biology whereas gender is a socially constructed concept.  We do not give birth with our gender identity but with our biology.  The document refers to the midwife’s need to be knowledgeable about the “anatomy and physiology of the birthing parent,” as if the anatomy and physiology of birth were not distinctively female.

The existence of intersexed people does not negate the reality of female biology.  Intersex conditions are based upon the biology of the body and not an abstract identity adopted by any particular individual.  We have not changed the biological definitions of male and female because of the existence of intersex individuals, just as we have not rewritten embryology texts to delete any mention of human beings having 46 chromosomes in order not to offend those people born with trisomy conditions. Why would we now change the biological definition of woman because a tiny proportion of the population change their gender identification?

We wholeheartedly endorse inclusivity, which above all requires midwives’ provision of the particular care that transgendered people need. Toward that end, we see the need to gather more information on the ways in which body modifications, puberty blockers (Lupron), and long-term synthetic hormones may affect midwifery care in pregnancy and birth. Midwives are well aware of how body dysphoria can negatively impact pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Before uncritically supporting gender transitioning, MANA should be calling for evidence precautionary to its long-term effects, especially in light of the younger and younger ages at which it is occurring. Before rushing into “inclusivity” we need to focus on the clinical needs of transgendered people and an open reflection of whether and how these particular needs fit into the scope of practice for all midwives.

Birth transcends and goes deeper than the western capitalistic concept of the individual. We live in the time where the dominant narrative is of the rights of the individual. We must be careful to examine how individualism harms healthy human society. We must fight the forces destroying the living material world and telling us that cultural distractions are more real than life itself. There is life-giving power in female biology. As midwives we protect the lives of the life-givers: women, mothers, females, and their offsping.  We must not become blinded to the biological material reality that connects us.  If midwives lose sight of women’s biological power, women as a class lose recognition of and connection to this power. We urge MANA to reconsider the erasure of women from the language of birth.

In sisterhood,

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